Teaching without history is “Tyranny”—Pete Edochie

Pete Edochie

Pete Edochie

Pete Edochie, one of Nigeria’s most accomplished actors, has described the removal of “History,” from among the courses students must take, as an act of tyranny.

Speaking to The Guardian in Port Harcourt, Edochie said he had earlier urged the Minister of Education to rectify the anomaly and expressed hope that Government would act expeditiously.

“To keep ‘History’ out of the syllabus,” he asserted, “is to inflict ignorance on the people. And that’s cruel. That’s tyranny.”

Edochie, who won worldwide acclaim as “Okonkwo” in NTA’s adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, said the Nigerian movie industry was doing “marvellously well.”

He, however, expressed concern that current education policy, which seriously under-values history and the humanities, could greatly impede the industry’s progress.

The soon-to-be 70 noted that most contemporary actors are “better than those of times past, because they’re more educated and have access to the Internet”.

Even so, he stressed, audiences are also more sophisticated and the performance-demands are thus greater, which imposes on young, aspiring actors a much higher level of preparation.

In the meantime, Edochie counseled, the onus is on individuals to prepare themselves properly, since the educational system failed to provide them with a solid foundation in history and the humanities.

He also advised that anyone expecting to excel, as a professional, should read extensively and be well-informed.

“You need to read avidly,” he said, “and in many different areas. Whatever you come across, just read it. Read! Read! Read!”

Periodisation being essential to plotting, the doyen offered that thespians with a broad knowledge of history could compete effectively for a wider variety of roles.

The veteran actor also recommended a good command of the English language, which he said had been especially helpful to him.

“I know English is a lingua franca, for Nigerians and not our mother tongue. But it’s very important in this profession. The more proficient you are, the better you can interpret characters,” he said.

Known variously, as “Okonkwo” and “Ebube Dike” (after “Okonkwo Ebube Dike,” the character he played in Things Fall Apart), Edochie has appeared in some 65-plus films.

And though several performances earned him international honours, Edochie never went to receive any of the plaques, due to his fear of flying.

“Any award they want to give me,” he quipped, “should be one I can collect on the ground!”

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Pete Edochie
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